HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP — Students at Cork Elementary pull on their hats and gloves as they march to their buses, never noticing the tall stack of white buckets along the hallway wall.
The buckets, and a new sign that directs all visitors to the office to sign in, are part of an anti-violence and lock down training initiative put in place just before the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 students and six adults.
Now districtwide, members of the Parent Teacher Organization are asking parents to supply each classroom with ordinary but potentially life-saving items.
Parents, teachers, school administrators and local first responders trained for the Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate initiative in October, and the district is beginning the new year with a “bucket list.”
“Our bucket list is a list we as a community hope and pray we will never have to use,” Cork Principal Melissa Doherty said.
The ‘bucket list’ is for each classroom to have a five gallon bucket of supplies to be used in case of a lockdown. The items, which should be donated by Friday, include 36-inch Bungee cords, two rolls of toilet paper per classroom, 10 super absorbent tampons, 10 big feminine pads, a tube of anti-biotic cream, a box of adhesive bandages, an old bath towel; three, one gallon zip-close plastic bags, a roll of medical gauze, a box of 30 fruit snacks, two “D” size batteries, 10 pair of latex gloves, a dark colored shower curtain, a five gallon bucket and an old belt.
“Some of the items may seem a little strange, but the teachers have been trained to use all of them to help keep the students safe during a lock down,” Doherty said.
Superintendent Mary Zappitelli said the ALICE training, which was paid for entirely by the district’s PTO’s at each school building, “was the right decision for the district.”
“We had been talking about the ALICE training for more than a year,” she said. “The PTO’s have been amazing in the way they stepped up and covered the costs.”
Zappitelli said the district’s staff and students will receive further training in ALICE procedures throughout the school year.
Doherty said the implementation of the ALICE procedures and the preparations for lock down should not be a fear response.
“I want to note that we do lock downs for a number of reasons,” she said. “This is not just about gunmen or intruders in the building. This is a total safety procedure for a lot of reasons. There is a confidence in being prepared. I feel really good about it.”
Doherty said each building is collecting the ALICE bucket items in different ways.
Zappitelli said the safety of students is always front-of-mind in every school.
“We want to do our best to protect,” she said. “This training, these precautions are the right course for our district. We train for fires, for tornadoes and now intruders are part of the precautions we take.”